Whether she’s appearing on a prime time TV show, gracing the silver screen, or writing, producing and starring in her own hit web series, there’s no shortage of things to keep actress and gamer Felicia Day busy. I’m thrilled Day, a self-described “Lifehacker addict” (SQUEE), took some time to talk with us about how she manages her projects in Hollywood and on the web—and finds time to play a little WoW, too.
Even if you don’t recognise Felicia Day’s name, most likely you’ve seen her on screen—check out her acting reel on Facebook for a few clips she’s appeared in. Joss Whedon fans will recognise her from the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but savvy gamers will know her from her award-winning web series, The Guild.
Here’s what Day had to say when we got to ask her a few of our burning questions.
Lifehacker: You’ve appeared in movies and television shows as well as direct-to-web productions like Dr. Horrible and The Guild. In a recent Comic-Con interview, you said that you get more satisfaction out of being on the YouTube front page than on the big screen. What makes the web a more fulfilling medium for you?
Felicia Day: Out of necessity a web producer is forced to wear many different hats on a day to day basis; whether it’s navigating a new social network, installing WordPress, learning about video cameras or doing a cast member’s makeup. We’re inventing it as we go along. Personally, I love the opportunity to constantly educate myself. And the fan interaction, which is only ever one click away, is really fulfilling as well.
Lifehacker: You’ve got a strong presence on several social networking sites and you participate in them as an authentic user—versus someone just around to do PR. It makes you incredibly accessible to fans, but I imagine it leads to some serious information overload. How do you keep up with the constant onslaught of messages? Does one-on-one interaction with fans online scale? Do you have any power tips or tricks for keeping up with all your social networks (and actually getting other work done)? Do you think social networking is a productivity killer, booster, or do you break even in the end?
Felicia Day: I have to prioritise because I could whittle the whole day away answering Facebook messages. I ruthlessly schedule my time with social networks, allotting an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening to deal with all of it in bulk. Important messages I forward to my Gmail account, tag them and deal with them on weekends. I try to read every message, but can only respond to about 20% of them, so any time I can answer something publicly is a great opportunity to head off duplications. That’s why I love Twitter. It’s an amazing tool to inform a large number of people simultaneously. I can see why people think they are a time-sink, but social networks have definitely made my show what it is because it’s easy for us to deliver our content to fans and communicate en-masse on a semi-personal level.
Lifehacker: You’ve acted in several big name television shows and movies, but you wrote, produced, and starred in your web series, The Guild. What do you prefer—writing or acting? Would you say your character in The Guild most closely represents who you are as a person versus other roles you’ve played because you wrote it?
Felicia Day: I would say the end result of writing makes me very proud, but the process of acting is my joy. I created the role of “Codex” because there are not a lot of geek-girl archetypes out there in mainstream media, other than Tina Fey. I tried to tailor the role to feature my best qualities as a performer, and show the world that a lead woman character doesn’t have to be perfectly put together to be able to carry a show. I spent years in Hollywood trying to be something I wasn’t. When I finally embraced who I truly was and created a role for it, that was when I finally started feeling fulfillment.
Lifehacker: Your Wikipedia page says that even though you were accepted into the Julliard School of Music in New York, you chose to major in math at UT Austin. I have to ask—why math over Julliard?
Felicia Day: I also majored in Music at UT, so I didn’t abandon it. In fact, I had a full scholarship because of the violin (one of the reasons I chose to go there in the first place.) Math was always something I loved doing but it was never an ultimate career goal for me. I guess it was a “fallback” degree that I happened to be good at. In retrospect I’m very happy that my educational background is so diverse because as a writer and performer I have a unique perspective that influences my writing and my acting.
Lifehacker: What’s your favourite piece of software that you use every day and can’t live without? How about your least favourite?
Felicia Day: Only one favourite? Bah! 🙂 I couldn’t live without Gmail for obvious reasons, and Digsby for social network centralization. Most hated would be the laggy HP software that came with my printer and Photoshop, because every time I try to do anything with it, I ache for the time to really learn how to use it properly!
Lifehacker: How do you stay organised and keep on top of all your various projects?
Felicia Day: I have been a Lifehacker addict for years, in fact, some of Vork’s (from the Guild) anal-retentive attitude is inspired by the site 🙂 I have tried every method imaginable to organise myself, to varying degrees of success, and I find that Remember the Milk and good old-fashioned daily post-it notes or my “Things to Do” notepads are the best way to get a handle on everyday tasks. And ruthless tagging of emails and bookmarks through del.icio.us saves me a lot of time and hassle.
Follow feliciaday on Twitter to keep up with her.